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And off we go…sort of

September 23, 2010

Happy to say, we picked up the RV in Houston from our friends at American Greenfuels after the always amazing Rethinking Everything Conference.  Bud runs through the new “veg” system and we are on our way back through DFW for one last hurrah with friends.  Oh, and let me just say, the new “veg” system rocks!  We have driven up from Houston to DFW on veg and have since made our way to Amarillo, TX almost entirely on “veg”.  I will post soon entirely on how this system works with pictures for those interested.

We had such a great time at the conference connecting with old friends and making so many new friends along the way.  In fact, it was so great, we hosted a pot luck gathering at our campsite in Lewisville, TX after coming back up to reconnect one last time with many of these individuals.  It was such a great reminder of how many truly great friends we have in the DFW area.

We ended up spending a few extra days in Lewisville as we really sparked a connection with the Cameron family from British Columbia, Canada.  Sadie and their daughter Iris became inseparable during our  stay and Elijah and Simon were so similar in their mannerisms it was really quite amazing to behold.

The Camerons:

Sadie and Iris making acorn stew:

We eventually parted ways as they were heading to the eastern coast of the US and we are making our way out to the west coast.  Unfortunately, we then realized we had a leak or “leaks” of sorts that needed to be addressed.  The first thing we found (much thanks to Joseph Duchene) was an engine oil leak.  Joe identified a loose bolt on the oil pan and we tightened that bad boy up.  Then I noticed we still had another leak in action, and it was leaking both Diesel fuel or veg oil depending on what we were running at the time.  After a few days of me being unable to pinpoint the leak, we brough it to Abel Fuels in Lewisville.  These guys were excellent.  They provided a 30 amp hookup to our RV while there and Paul let me look over his shoulder the whole time as he diagnosed and fixed the problem.  It turns out one of the fuel lines was leaking and needed to be replaced.  A few hundred $$$ later we were back in business!

We headed northwest towards Amarillo, TX and stayed in a town called Canyon, TX.  Our initial plan was to head to Denver,CO but after looking at current temps, we decided to head west through New Mexico on our way to CA.  While staying here in Canyon, TX, we knew we just had to explore Palo Duro Canyon (which happens to be the 2nd largest Canyon in the US), and so we did.  Here are a few shots we took on our 6 mile trek up into the highest part of the canyon:

Ironically, as we headed west and stopped over in Albuquerque, NM, we came to find out that our good friends the Wagner’s  (Justin, Tara, and Zeb) were staying just outside of town as well.  We connected again for a few days and we are now lodged up in Leisure Mountain RV Park just outside of Albuquerque, NM until tomorrow when we plan to make our way towards the Four Corners Monument.  Since it is the only place in the country where one can essentially be in 4 different states at the same time, we thought it might be cool to swing through on our way out to southwestern Utah.

With a little help from Justin, I replaced the two starting batteries for the RV as they apparently have reached the end of their useful life.  On top of that, we hope to be filling up on “veg oil” in the morning as we trek out.

Updates from the next leg of the adventure to follow……

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Life on the road – Conversions almost complete

September 3, 2010

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have posted.  We have been on the road full time now for about 3 weeks.  Admittedly it started off a bit rough until we sort of found our groove, but things are finally settling down.  For all the fun we have had on our new adventure, we have certainly had some challenges along the way.  

First, some more pics of our conversion:  

Sadie testing out the supports on the new bunk frame.

 

Elijah pitched in and worked on painting the various colored stripes he wanted in his “Bat Cave” bunk.  

Me, framing out the spot for the VESA mount and new flat screen where the old CRT TV was in the front of the coach.  Adding flat screens in instead of CRT’s served two purposes.  First, CRT’s suck and why would I want those in our RV :-)  

More importantly, dropping weight in the RV anywhere and everywhere you can is critical, and those old Tube TV’s are super heavy.  It’s a win-win which is why I pulled out the one from the front and the rear of the RV.  

Almost there……
On a side note, I was shocked at how expensive the mounts are for these things…  Cost half as much as the TV’s that you hang on them.  Logic is lost on me, but I needed something heavy duty that would hold it during the bouncing that ensues when you are driving down the road.
I don’t think pictures ultimately capture the way the RV came out, but here are some shots to give a general view of our new home:

Yeah, these next two pictures definitely suck, but it’s hard to capture good pictures in a narrow space.  

At this point we have done all of the remodeling efforts, and are really just finalizing some of our technology solutions and our Veg oil conversion.  At this point via sponsorship from JefaTech Solutions, I have installed a WiFi booster antenna connected to the Batwing antenna on the roof.  This antenna runs to a customized router inside the RV that then serves to “repeat” wireless Access points it finds.  The antenna we have boosts the range for picking up Access points by up to 1 mile.  Another sponsored product we received was a SOHO amplifier kit (from Wilson Electronics) that utilizes an external antenna, and internal antenna, and an amplifier in order to boost 3G data and voice signals four our phones.  This product looks amazing, however I have not been able to quite get mine implemented correctly yet.  I hope to have this rectified soon.  

We are currently in the Galveston area of TX as we await for our parts to arrive at American Greenfuels.  After getting price quotes on a number of systems designed to allow for Waste Vegetable oil (from restaurants) to be pumped into an on board tank system and then run through as fuel in the RV, we decided on a Golden Fuel System to be installed by American Greefuels in Houston, TX.  We first swung through to meet with Bud Barber and staff so that he could finalize measurements at his shop.
The parts are scheduled to arrive at the shop soon and we are hoping to be underway with having the conversion done beginning around 8/23/2010.  In the interim, we have taken up residence primarily at Galveston Island State Park.
This is a great place to hang out while we await the final step in our RV conversion.  Wouldn’t be our first choice of places to stay in August, but we are making the best of it.
I could go on and on with pictures and things that we have had challenges with thus far, but I’ll save some of that for another post.  One which I hope will be a lot sooner in coming along.  All I can say for certain is that all of us are enjoying our new found freedom, regardless of the new challenges.  We are so excited about getting on the road and exploring new places (and old ones) all across the country. 
Keep following your dreams everyone!

 

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Overhaul has begun

July 10, 2010
So we have been super busy making changes in our new RV and getting it “Fulltime” ready.  It started with converting the closet in the rear of the RV to bunks, then painting and pulling up all the older flooring throughout.  This first picture on the right is the RV as it is parked in front of our house one of many times as we continue to get it ready

In this picture (left), I ponder how to convert this closet space in the back to bunks for Elijah and Sadie.  Sarah and I wanted to not only have a decent size bunk for them to sleep on, but one that included a storage place for their toys/dolls and a space that would be able to have a privacy curtain as well when they want their own space.


 The build out commences:



Much more has been done since the bunks were completed at this point, but we have been a bit behind in posting the progress photos.  To this point, we just need to add a few finishing touches to the bunks, we have installed the new laminate wood flooring throughout the entire RV, all walls have been painted, old curtain fixtures removed, couch/dinette covered in new fabric, and floor finish work is underway.  The picture below is a view of what it looked like when we got it.  Stay tuned for pictures of what it is looking like now!
Next steps are to configure electronic devices, finish work, and potential Vegetable Oil conversion. New TV’s and wireless internet booster antennas for both WiFi and 3G/4G are in scope soon.

So much to do, so little time!
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Life shift, everything coming into place

June 29, 2010

So it has been a long time in the making, but I am finally free from the corporate bonds that were holding our family back from being free to explore..as a family.  For the past year or so Sadie would ask why I continue to work a job I don’t like when I always talk about doing what you love, and follow your interests.  I knew it always felt hypocritical, but all I could respond with is that “daddy needs to work this job in order for us to have the things we have.”

We came to realize that I don’t need to be a slave to a job I don’t like because we found we actually don’t “need” all the “things” we have.  Sarah and I started downsizing our possessions over the course of the last year (sold a car, stopped buying the latest gadgets, getting things we needed from free cycle or second hand shops).  I can remember not too long ago when we would just go to the store to buy anything we needed brand new and how much money gets thrown away like that.  We decided in order for us to all be free, and for me to get out of this job, we needed to make changes.  Turns out, it really isn’t that hard…..

About 4 months ago, it became clear to me that my job was going to be outsourced, and that my time to be let go by my employer of 12 years was going to come to fruition.  I could not have been happier.  No, seriously….  We put a plan in motion that included selling our home, buying a 39 foot Class A RV, selling our possessions (minus what we are taking in the RV and a car to tow behind it), and finding online teaching jobs at a few Universities to provide income while our family travels the country. 

The day arrived a few weeks ago when those of us who were being let go would be asked to come to an office one by one to be delivered the news.  I had a literal hop in my step as I got the nod because I knew what we had been planning for had come to pass.  My employer made right with a very generous severance package, but unlike most receiving the news, it was exactly what I wanted….more importantly, it was exactly what I needed.  I was burned out, and I need to see and do more with my life.  Sarah and I have decided we are not going to wait until we are old and retired to see all their is to see in this world, and why should our kids have to wait to see it either.  Our unschooling mentality makes this a perfect fit for them as well.

At this point, we have our RV (we are doing constant daily work to get it fully ready for our travels (replacing flooring, painting, building in bunks for the kids, replacing old TV’s, etc.).  Our house is under contract, and we are set to have an estate sale shortly as we approach our closing date.  Things are happening just as they need to.  I can’t say how many people upon hearing of our plan say “Wow, I wish I could do that…”  To which I say, “Why can’t you?”  It’s not a question I really expect an answer from because I know most people will say it just wouldn’t be feasible for them for any number of reasons, but the truth is people are often just afraid to try something for fear of failing.  We refuse to live that way.  There is nothing we can’t do that we can’t back out of down the road if we decide it is not working out.  What we know for certain is that if we don’t live without trying and experiencing all we can, we will just miss out on the abundant opportunity that is out there.  I’m not willing to take that chance by clinging to a “safe” suburbia lifestyle.

I hope to be more active posting to the blog once we hit the road.  We are sure to have some amazing stops and things to share.  Here are a few pics of our rig parked at a campsite we took the first weekend.  Once we have the renovations done, I’m going to post a lot of before and after pictures.

Be safe all.  Your head will always try to get in the way, but remember to follow your heart.

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Free from corporate slavery

June 3, 2010

On an administrative note, I have retitled my blog accordingly. :-)

So this week, my job of 12 years came to an end and I couldn’t be happier.  I have longed for this day to come as our family looks to embark on new adventures.  It is hard to describe how freeing it is to know I am not confined to a 6×6 prison cell every Mon-Fri for the rest of my adult life, living for the weekends and the occassional vacation trips.  I have refused to accept this as the “only way” to live. 

Our family has been cutting back expenses and material things for months now and we now just need for our house to sell. (Turns out we don’t need a Lamborgini, golden toilet seats, and other excessive items).  Once that is complete we can set sail around the country in our Class A Diesel Pusher Rig and see and do so many new things.  This is not only a great opportunity for our kids to learn about things, it is a great way for Sarah and I as adults to learn about things we might not otherwise have a chance to be exposed to.

For those wondering how we might fund our adventures, it is really about getting creative.  Figure out what you have to offer and how you can do it remotely/online, etc. etc.  For me, I will be facilitating some online college courses asynchronously at a few different Universities.  (On a side note, this is the first time I can actually point to having my Master’s degree as having any value other than extra insulation on my office wall).  Sarah continues her hard work on publishing her magazine as well as her Humans Being podcast and blog as other ways to provide enough to cover our reduced expenditures.  Who knows what other creative ways we will find from the road to help pay our way.  It’s going to be fun!

The mood around here is one of excitement, although everyone is ready to get started.  And hey, if anyone knows someone in the DFW area looking for an excellent house with an OASIS type backyard, send them our way!  We are highly motivated to sell and strike a deal.

I hope to post more actively once we are on the road and we are out from underneath the weight of home bills.  It will also be a great opportunity to share pictures of our journey and hopefully to meet up with many of you other Freedom loving families.

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Guess what? Kids are human beings too….

April 22, 2010

I have been meaning to blog about this for the last few days but my fantastic job provided to me via my Public school and College Education has kept me a little too busy to do more of what I enjoy.

Since the firestorm that started after the Beigler family appeared on Good Morning America Monday morning, there has been a lot of press given to Unschooling.  Other than the first piece that GMA did, most of the press has been much more positive and done in a way to better understand what unschooling actually is.

A lot of the comments from uninformed people responding to these shows has really been comical in many respects.  Two of my favorites:

Q – How will your kids deal with bullies when they get into the real world if they don’t go to school to learn how to handle those types of situations?

A – Bullies?  Really?  Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t remember the last time I had someone picking on me in the office, stealing my lunch, giving me wedgies, or calling me names.  Could be I’m just one of the fortunate ones, or it could be this is one of the dumbest arguments for why kids should attend school EVER. 

Look, I get that there are assholes of all ages and sizes.  As an adult you will and do encounter these people.  However, pranks such as what occur in a school system are not something that happens when you live in the “real” world.  When exposed to a situation where someone is being an ass, you have the ability to remove yourself from the situation.  Unlike in school, I don’t have to stay somewhere I don’t want when this type of ignorant behavior occurs.  I also don’t keep friends that want to steal my lunch, give me wedgies, or call me names.  It’s just not my thing.

Q - Without being in school, your kids won’t learn how to socialize with others (insert “real world” here again for effect).  How do you expect them to function productively when they get out into the “real world?”  (I want to know where this real world is that some people are living in that my kids are not yet a part of.)

A – This is such an old dead belief regarding homeschooling as a whole.  Going to a public school and spending your entire day with kids your own age and socio-economic status is not socialization, but more like sheep herding.  The one individual that is somewhat different than the other students is the teacher (because of their age), but please don’t expect to be able to socialize with them, because they are there to be your superior away from home. 

In our world (which apparently is not the same world that most others live in), our kids spend every single day socializing with kids of varying ages, race, color, economic status in addition to regular adult interaction.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how amazing it is to watch my kids speak with adults….well I would have left this day job a long time ago….  I mean, imagine that, they actually look the adult in the eye and hold a conversation.  They do this because they are human beings and they have no reason not to expect the same respect from an adult as they would from another child.  I’d love to take credit for it when complimented, but it really just feels normal.  I’ll hold off on patting myself on the back.

A common reaction I am seeing from a lot of unschoolers is whether they should be excited about this press or scared?  To me this is absolutely exciting.  Since I know what we do is so right for our family and so many families, how can it not be a good thing?  It is important for us to show our support for what we do because we have nothing to hide.  I will not shy away from telling people I care enough about my kids to not just send them to public school because it is what everyone else does.

Get out there and keep telling people what you do!  There has never been significant change in this world without an individual or group standing up for what they believe in, even when it may not have been the popular thing to do.

Well, got to go for now.  I’m off to smoke a cigarette in the bathroom stall before my boss realizes I left my desk without a hallway pass.

-CP

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Journey Into Unschooling – Part 4

April 7, 2010

Now that the cat was out of the bag on our intentions to unschool (homeschool) our kids, we started seeking out as much information as we could get our hands on.  It was amazing the amount of like-minded individuals we found once we were actively looking for them.  As part of the process, we made many connections and even went to some informational sessions with friends who had similar questions and concerns that we did.

If I can make any suggestion to anyone considering unschooling or just getting started with the idea of it, this is it:

Immerse Yourself In It!

The more we learned and the more we sought out, the more we were sold on it.  It is because of this that we started to act as advocates for unschoolers everywhere whether through blogs, podcasts, appearing on National TV shows, and speaking at conferences.  Not that we have all the answers or that our way is right for everyone, but we are just so passionate about it that it just feels right to share with anyone who cares to know.

Our journey ultimately took us to Texas as lower cost of living, more homeschool-friendly state laws, and climate seemed to all fit in well with the lifestyle we were craving.  Since moving, we have found our ability to spend time outdoors has been a great contributor to our ability to see the world in which we live.  Wherever you live, use your environment as your classroom.  Kids and adults alike will learn so much from simple hikes and walks when your mind is open to learn.

As time has passed, we have morphed our life around unschooling to include all facets of what we do.  For us, it seemed strange to let the kids choose how and when they will learn about things, but then restrict them from choosing what food they want to eat that day, or decide when they should be going to bed.  Human beings by nature are very aware of their bodies needs and we have seen this in action by trusting the process with our kids and watching them make healthy decisions.  Of course this doesn’t mean they won’t ever eat sweets or something not deemed healthy.  It also doesn’t mean they won’t stay up late some nights and be tired the next day.  I can safely say I have done all of those things myself and still do on occasion (even as the responsible adult).  Equality in the household is what we like to look at it as.  Sarah and I provide the guidance and make sure we have a safe and comfortable environment, but everyone contributes to our daily living.

This is where we are.  Now you know how we got here.  For future posts I will be looking forward to talking about our current adventures as we unschool our way through life.  Stay tuned!

-Chris

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